BY ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI
It’s been almost a decade since the visually stunning 300 (and I’m not just talking about Gerard Butler) hit theatres, and while there had been several whispers of a sequel, after years of waiting in anticipation for a trailer or release date, I gave up hope that this news would never be anything more than a rumour.
Finally the movie gods smiled upon us mere mortals and blessed us with the awesomeness that is 300: Rise of an Empire. Not quite a sequel of the original per se, but more of a concurrent and equally fantastic cinematic adventure, playing out on the other side of Greece while Leonidas and his 300 men battled Xerxes and his Persians, delving into a bit of backstory before working through the aftermath of Sparta’s defeat.
After the male-heavy casting in the original 300–however good this movie was, only one conversation with a female (Lena Headey, who played Leonidas’ queen) comes to mind–I had little hope that its successor would focus more on women. While the same was true for the former–there were only two females in the mix–they dominated the screen and made 300: Rise of an Empire an epic performance of female badassery.
Eva Green played Artemisia, the power- and violence-hungry Greek-born Persian commander (whose makeup artist is ON POINT with the 90s grunge eyeliner) leading the charge in the battle against the Athenians while Xerxes (whom she manipulated into becoming so vile and self-indulged) sat back and watched the Spartans attack. (Though, frankly since I saw Eva Green play a villain in Dark Shadows I’ve had a serious girl-crush on her.) On the flip side, we had Lena Headey reprise her role as Queen Gorgo (can we just call her Cersei though?), and while she wasn’t in the movie much (though narrating the story for us the whole flick), she showed off how ruthless she can be and that it’s not just the Spartan men who were trained to fight to the death.
The storyline wasn’t too complicated and for that I was grateful as I was able to focus on the stunning visual effects (gotta love that goopy graphic novel-style blood), the wicked action-packed fight scenes and kickass chicks. If you loved 300 in all of its chiselled body glory, then you will most certainly enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire (even in 3D) as it has everything that made the former so good, but with two leading ladies that make it even better. (But don’t worry, the guys were good too.)